Ricki and the Flash

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Ricki and the Flash

If you remember screenwriter Diablo Cody’s film Young Adult, then you have a good idea what to expect here: a woman who has failed to conform to society’s expectations is drawn back to the world where her failure seems most acute, there to find a way to get the respect of the past she’s never quite been able to shake.
Where Young Adult was a black comedy with a lead we could at best pity, here our star is Meryl Streep’s aging rocker Ricki, and while she’s not exactly living the high life – she makes a living bagging groceries, with her bar band ‘Ricki and the Flash’ more of a fun hobby than a serious concern – she’s living her life her way. Which is a problem, because it means the drama when she’s called back to the fancy mansion of her ex (Kevin Kline) after her daughter (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter) attempts suicide after her husband leaves her is minimal at best.
Yes, everyone hates her because she abandoned her family for her rock ‘n’ roll dreams, but they’re all uptight stuffed shirts and Ricki is Meryl Streep having a good time; there are occasional moments of vulnerability on her part, but audiences are coming to see her rock out and that’s pretty much what she delivers. So if you want to hear a bar band play a bunch of songs while Streep sings, congratulations, this is the film for you. If you’re after a family drama with some depth, or a comedy with some laughs, this occasionally comes close – but never quite hits the right note.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris